Nov. 23 (Bloomberg) -- New Jersey Governor Chris Christie still wins approval from almost half of the state’s voters even as he cuts budgets, according to a Fairleigh Dickinson University poll.
Christie’s job performance was supported by 49 percent of registered voters surveyed by the university’s PublicMind Poll, compared with 39 percent who disapprove, the school said today. In an October survey, 51 percent approved of the governor’s job performance while 37 percent disapproved.
“Deep cuts in public budgets and a popular governor don’t usually go together,” Peter Woolley, the poll director and a politics professor at the school, said in a statement.
Since becoming the first Republican governor to win election since 1997, Christie, 48, has imposed a property-tax growth cap, pushed through a budget that slashed spending, pressured schoolteachers to pay more for health-care benefits, and taken a first crack at fixing one of the nation’s most-underfunded pension systems. He has confronted government- and teacher-union leaders along the way, with little damage to his public standing, according to voter surveys.
Christie should “hold the line on spending,” according to 60 percent of voters in the poll by Madison, New Jersey-based PublicMind, compared with 22 percent who say the state should raise taxes to preserve programs. In households with government workers, 47 percent disapprove of his job performance, compared with 40 percent who approve, according to the poll.
The survey also showed that the approval ratings for the state teachers union, the New Jersey Education Association, remains evenly balanced, as it was in a March survey, even as Christie said the union has spent “millions” of dollars on television and radio ads attacking him. The union had a favorable rating of 39 percent favorable to 38 percent unfavorable.
“Christie is holding his own and the NJEA is not,” Woolley said.
Christie recently traveled to campaign for fellow Republicans in states including Connecticut, Michigan and Illinois in the run-up to the Nov. 2 general elections.
“To the extent that Christie’s national reputation is tied up with national Republican politics, it can hurt him with voters back home,” Woolley said. “He has thus far made his reputation on honest and decisive management, not solid partisanship.”
Christie also stumped around New Jersey to help his party in the state Legislature and Congress, with mixed results. Republican Jon Runyan won a southern New Jersey congressional seat, while Tom Goodwin, a state Senate incumbent the governor supported, was defeated by a Democrat with union support.
PublicMind researchers surveyed 804 registered voters by telephone from Nov. 15-21. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.
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